Asiana stops selling some emergency exit seats after plane door incident

By AFP   May 28, 2023 | 04:51 pm PT
Asiana stops selling some emergency exit seats after plane door incident
Asiana Airlines' Airbus A321 plane, of which a passenger opened a door on a flight shortly before the aircraft landed, is pictured at an airport in Daegu, South Korea, May 26, 2023. Photo by Yonhap via Reuters
South Korea’s Asiana Airlines has stopped selling some emergency exit seats following an incident in which a passenger opened an aircraft door mid-air, the carrier said on Sunday.

A court in Daegu later on Sunday issued an arrest warrant for the man, surnamed Lee, for allegedly breaking aviation security laws, Yonhap news agency reported.

The incident took place aboard an A321-200 plane, which was carrying nearly 200 passengers as it approached the runway at Daegu International Airport, about 240 km south-east of Seoul.

The aircraft landed safely but several people were hospitalized. There were no serious injuries or damage.

Starting Sunday, the 31A and 26A emergency exit seats on its 14 A321-200 jets – 11 of which have 26A as their emergency seat while the other three have 31A – would no longer be offered for sale, the carrier said.

"As a safety precaution, this measure will apply even if the flights are full," it added.

A court issued an arrest warrant for Lee, Yonhap reported, citing "the seriousness of his case and the risk of flight".

He had been detained by authorities in Daegu, and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Lee had previously told Daegu police that he had wanted to get out of the plane because he was feeling "suffocated" inside the cabin.

"I wanted to get off quickly," Lee told reporters on Sunday before the warrant was issued.

"I’m very sorry to the kids," he added, referring to at least 48 elementary and middle school students who were on board.

He also had been under stress from being unemployed, authorities said.

A nearby passenger captured footage of wind blowing through the open door, with fabric seat-backs and passengers’ hair fluttering wildly as several people shouted in shock.

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